You only have 15 seconds…


January 6th, 2009 by Justin Oberman

As the conflict in the Middle East continues rockets fired by Hamas continue to fall into the Israeli city of Sederot where countless of innocent victims have 15 seconds to find shelter and or find their children and loved ones. Mobile Technology is now being used to rally people around the world during those 15 seconds.
The city is paralyzed as Terrorist Hamas groups target children’s schools and places of public gathering like supermarkets and stores. The economy is in ruins and besides worrying for their lives teh people of Sederot are beginning to worry about their economic stability and putting food on the table.

Jews all over the world are sending aid. But there is little that they can do (physically) to help anyone in Sederot during the 15 seconds after the sirens go off.

For this reason The National Council of Young Israel has set up a service called SMS SEDEROT or (Solidarity Message For Sederot). When the Tzeva Adom (Code Red) siren in sounded in Sederot (or any Israeli City) SMSSEDEROT will send you a text message that will read:

A Kassam Rocket has just been launched at Sderot. You have: 15 seconds to read Psalm 130. 15 seconds to give to charity 15 seconds to call the UN , the WHite House, your Senetors and Congressman 15 Seconds to pause and pray for the people of Sderot.

(When you sign up you get to choose which reminder you want)

Whether you are religious or not it is not hard to imagine the power of such a text message. Wherever I am I know that at that moment people in Sederot are fearing for their lives. And I can pray with them or feel solidarity with them. Either way, I am with them.

To hear an interview with SMSederots founder click here.
Click here to sign up.

I’m moving my earlier post of suggestions of how to respond here, so as to keep them all in one place. It was written on Jan 5th, 9 Teves.

Tomorrow is Asarah beTeiveis, commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem which led the end of the First Temple.

Since the initial fast was established (some time before the prophet Zechariah, see Zec 9:19), it also became a day for mourning the victims of the tragedies of our exiles who even had the knowledge of their yahrzeit taken from them. In many communities, that includes victims of the Holocaust, their yahrzeit is observed tomorrow. (Others use the day the Nazis took the town in question or Holocaust Memorial Day as the yahrzeit.)

A fast day is a time for repentance. Fasting is “only” a way to set the mood. Therefore, one isn’t required to put in the same effort to fast on Asarah beTeiveis as one would for Yom Kippur or Tish’ah beAv, all of us, in any medical condition, are capable of commemorating the essence day.

Jews seem most unified in times of trouble. And we’re in one now.

First it was Sderot. Without letting that end, Hashem added worry by shaking our financial foundations. Then Mumbai. And then had so many of our charities and their donors more specifically hit. Meanwhile, Sderot and Ashkelon were still being hit. Now, an out-and-out war. And the antisemitism we hear around the globe looking to blame the Jews for the financial crisis can also be seen in people who protest Israel’s straightforward desire to eliminate a threat to its own people.

So, Hashem is steadily increasing our feelings of being in trouble. Of being isolated. Of needing to turn to each other, and to Him. One can choose to read this as the Almighty steadily raising the volume on a message: This is a time of trouble, unite already!

And, as I said, tomorrow is a day for repentance. It’s also a day for remembering those who were killed for being Jews. As R’ JB Soloveitchik put it, “In the crematoria, the ashes of Hassidim and Anshei Ma’aseh (pious Jews) were mixed with the ashes of radicals and freethinkers and we must fight against the enemy who does not recognize the difference between one who worships and one who does not … ” (Di Tog Morgen Journal, November 19, 1954, tr. Louis Bernstein) Repentence in the field of unity seems particularly appropriate, even if it were not the call of current events.

Personally, I plan on putting all arguments on hold for the day. I do a lot of my dialogue by email, a medium notorious for bringing out contentiousness. I intend to spend the day developing awareness of how often I disagree with others, and more importantly, how I tend to handle that disagreement.

On another note, the portion of R’ Reisman’s shiur of last motza’ei Shabbos that deals with the war and how to respond to it is being circulated publicly. You can watch it here. He speaks of the appropriateness of adding a personal request to the birkhas Ge’ulah (“… Go’eil Yisrael) in the Amidah. The need for more learning, more tefillah (which only works if the prayers are meant). The need for hakaras hatov, recognizing the good, gratitude, if we expect Hashem to do good to us. Give something up, so as to share in the communal pain. Cry out, even if it doesn’t help pragmatically… can someone who is in pain remain silent? R’ Reisman, quoting R’ Chaim Smulevitz speaks of four examples:

  • Iyov heard of our problems in Egypt, and was silent.
  • Tzidqiyahu, who didn’t see he could be the hero of Israel.
  • Esther, who fasted so as to share in the communal pain.
  • Harugei Lud, who confessed to a crime they didn’t commit, so as to take the governor’s wrath off the rest of the town. They were killed, and the gemara says none can touch their place in heaven.

Again, listen to the recording, this is only a small selection of ideas intended to be a “teaser”.

Another way you can help: pair up with a specific soldier. See this letter by the Bostoner Rebbe (Har Nof) and R’ Simcha haKohein Kook:

מכתב גלוי לכל אחינו די בכל אתר ואתר

אחינו בית ישראל באיזורים רבים של ארץ הקודש מצוים בצרה ובשביה

ולעת כזאת חובתנו לחוש את אחדות כלל ישראל בלב ובנפש להרבות בתפילה ובכל הענינים, כי עת צרה היא ליעקב וכו’ ובעהי”ת ממנה יושע.

ובאנו לעורר, ולבקש, ולהוסיף ענין של זיכוי הרבים ביותר.

תוה”ק מעידה כי במלחמת מדין נצטוו להחלץ “אלף למטה” “אלף למטה”.ואיתא במד”ר ובילקוט שמעוני ד”וימסרו” היינו עוד אלף למטה, פירוש שהיו נמסרין זוגות זוגות, כדי שיהיו מתפללים איש על רעהו.

ואכן במלחמת מדין נאמר “ולא נפקד ממנו איש”. ובודאי העובדה שניצלו כולם היתה בגלל תפילת כלל ישראל

והבאנו דבר זה לפני מרן הגאון רבי חיים קניבסקי שליט”א, שמח בדבר, והוסיף ואמר כי גם כך נהג דוד המלך ע”ה שלכל אחד שיצא להילחם, הכינו יהודי נוסף, שתפקידו היה,להתפלל עבורהיוצא, וישא”כהסכמת דוד המלך ע”ה לתפילות אלו.

לזאת, אנו פונים בזה לכל חייל החפץ שיתפללו בעדו בעהי”ת להתקשר לטלפון 02 581 1911 ולמסור את שמו ושם אמו ואין צורך בשמות המשפחה.( אי מייל או פקס 08-9450027) ונעביר בעהי”ת את שמו למתפלל שיכון בתוספות תורתו ותפילתו לזכותו ולשמרו.

וכן קוראים אנו לכל א’ המצוי ח”ו בגלל המלחמה במצוקה או בחרדה, במקלט ובכל אתר לפנות להנ”ל ובעהי”ת נעביר גם שמו למי שקיבל על עצמו להוסיף בתפילתו ובתלמוד תורה עבור המבקש.

ובעזהשי”ת נזכה מן השמים גם אנו לנאמר “ולא נפקד ממנו איש”.

ובזה אנו קוראים גם לכל מי שרוצה לקיים דברי חכמים ולהוסיף בתורה ותפילה, להצטרף ולהיכנס לפיתקא של תפילות , להתקשר למספ’ הנ”ל ולקבל שם של חייל או אחר לכוון את תוספות תורתו ותפלתו לזכות חבירו .

גם נשים צדקניות יכולות לקבל ע”ע להתפלל עבור חברה השרויה במצוקה עקב המלחמה.

Letter signature

An open letter to all Achenu Bene Yisroel

After learning about the heart rendering appeal of the Gedolay Torah to intensify our Tefilos and Torah learning during this very trying time for Klal Yisroel, we have undertaken to join and aid them in their prayers.

The Medrash Rabah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him.

The Great Gaon and Sage Rebbe Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a when asked about this tradition pointed out that Dovid Hemelech, as well continued and instituted the practice, that for every individual who was in combat, there was another person selected for the specific task of praying and learning for him.

Therefore in order to continue and accomplish this Minhag, we ask soldiers and/or their relatives who would want a “partner” in Torah and Tefillah to email or fax 011 9728 9450027 and give their Hebrew name and mothers Hebrew name without any other particulars such as family name or other identifying factors, so that we may disseminate them among those who heed the call to add Torah and Tefillah for the sake of those who find themselves in jeopardy ח”ו. Anyone who finds himself or herself ח”ו in danger or in shelters because of the war may also feel free to call or email to the above.

To bond with us and receive a name of your “partner” please email or fax the above.

May Klal Yisroel in the merit of joining together, speedily see a successful end to this trial and campaign as quoted in the Parsha “without loss of life”.

HaRav Simcha Hakohen Kook HaRav Levi Yitzchok Horowitz
Chief Rabbi of Rechovot Bostoner Rebbe

And from the Agudah of America’s Moe’etzes Gedolei haTorah:


לבני ישראל היקרים, הדואגים אל אחיהם בעת צרה.

לאור המצב כעת אשר אלפי יהודים יושבי ארץ הקודש נתונים בסכנה מפרעות אויב, ראינו לנכון להדגיש ביותר החובה המוטלת על כולנו להתעורר בתפלה ולבקש רחמים על אחינו היקרים ולהרבות בצדקה וזכיות על שארית ישראל שלא יאונה להם שוד ושבר, ויש לחזק הנהוג לומר פרקי תהלים פג קל קמב בכל יום, וגם לשפוך שיח בתחנונים של “והוא רחום” שאומרים בשני וחמישי, ובברכת “השכיבנו” בערבית שמבקשים ופרוש עלינו סכת שלומך וחותמים שומר עמו ישראל לעד.

והשי”ת ברוב רחמיו וחסדיו יגן על עמו ונחלתו ויחלצם ממיצר, ויוציאנו מאפלה לאורה ומשעבוד לגאולה אכי”ר.

ח’ טבת תשס”ט

מועצת גדולי התורה בארה”ב

* * *


To all dear Jews concerned about their fellow-Jews in this time of distress:

In light of the current situation, in which thousands of Jews in the Holy Land are in danger due to the attacks of the enemy, we regard it as proper to strongly emphasize the obligation on us all to awaken ourselves in prayer, to ask for Divine mercy for our dear brethren and to increase our charity and good deeds for the protection of the remnant of Yisroel from any and all harm. We should intensify the practice of reciting chapters 83, 130 and 142 of Tehillim each day, and fervently pour out our hearts in the prayer “V’hu Rachum” said on Monday and Thursday mornings and in the blessing of “Hashkiveinu” in Ma’ariv, where we ask Hashem to “spread upon us Your tent of peace” and conclude “the Guardian of His nation Yisroel forever.”

May Hashem in His abundant mercy and kindness shield His nation and heritage, release them from all straits, and take us from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption. Amein, may it be His will.

8 Teves, 5769

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America

A question of tefillah is what to say.

R’ Eliyahu, the Rishon leTziyon (former Sepharadi Chief Rabbi), wrote a short “Yehi Ratzon“. I made a handout of it, available here. Perhaps that is an appropriate paragraph for birkhas Ge’ulah. For those who are uncomfortable with such things, feeling too much like a modern addition to the traditional siddur (although one can find examples in footnotes in our published siddurim that aren’t much older), there is still an obligation to add something to one’s tefillah. If one finds standardization problematic, then one’s own words, even one’s thoughts without moving one’s lips.

Among Tehillim, there are a few peraqim that deal with topics very related to this war. “LaMenatzei’ach, Mizmor leDavid” (ch. 20) is the one usually recited during wartime, being part of Shacharis and therefore known by many by heart and available in every siddur. “Hashem will answer you in the day of trouble… They with chariots, and they with horses, but we, with our mention of the name of Hashem…”

Another commonly used pereq in these too frequent times of trouble is 121, “Shir laMaalos, Esa Einai“. (Also found in most siddurim, after Shabbos Minchah.) “I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help will come from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth.” Note how in that verse, David merges the visions of G-d. The Grand Maker of everything is also the One Who I can turn to as a child to parent, looking expectantly for help. “May Hashem guard your leaving and coming, from now until forever.”

On Areivim, Moshe Yehudah Gluck noted the particular appropriateness of ch. 83. Professor Yitchak Levine placed R’ Hirsch’s translation and commentary on line at his site. I wish to leave with those thoughts:

1 A poem, a song of Asaph.

א שִׁ֖יר מִזְמ֣וֹר לְאָסָֽף׃

2 G‑d! do not keep You silence; do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, G‑d.

ב אֱ‑לֹהִ֥ים אַל־דֳּמִי־לָ֑ךְ אַל־תֶּֽחֱרַ֖שׁ וְאַל־תִּשְׁקֹ֣ט אֵֽ‑ל׃

3 For here -Your enemies are in an uproar; and those hate You have lifted their head.

ג כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה אֽ֭וֹיְבֶיךָ יֶֽהֱמָי֑וּן וּ֝מְשַׂנְאֶ֗יךָ נָ֣שְׂאוּ רֹֽאשׁ׃

4 They hold crafty converse against Your people, and take counsel against Your treasured ones.

ד עַֽל־עַ֭מְּךָ יַֽעֲרִ֣ימוּ ס֑וֹד וְ֝יִתְיָֽעֲצ֗וּ עַל־צְפוּנֶֽיךָ׃

5 They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’

ה אָֽמְר֗וּ לְ֭כוּ וְנַכְחִידֵ֣ם מִגּ֑וֹי וְלֹֽא־יִזָּכֵ֖ר שֵֽׁם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל עֽוֹד׃

6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against You do they make a covenant;

ו כִּ֤י נֽוֹעֲצ֣וּ לֵ֣ב יַחְדָּ֑ו עָ֝לֶ֗יךָ בְּרִ֣ית יִכְרֹֽתוּ׃

7 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites;

ז אָֽהֳלֵ֣י אֱ֭דוֹם וְיִשְׁמְעֵאלִ֗ים מוֹאָ֥ב וְהַגְרִֽים׃

8 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Palestine with the inhabitants of Tyre;

ח גְּבָ֣ל וְ֭עַמּוֹן וַֽעֲמָלֵ֑ק פְּ֝לֶ֗שֶׁת עִם־יֹ֥שְׁבֵי צֽוֹר׃

9 Assyria also is joined with them; they have been an arm to the children of Lot. Selah!

ט גַּם־אַ֭שּׁוּר נִלְוָ֣ה עִמָּ֑ם הָ֤יֽוּ זְר֖וֹעַ לִבְנֵי־ל֣וֹט סֶֽלָה׃

10 Do You unto them as unto Midian; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook Kishon;

י עֲשֵֽׂה־לָהֶ֥ם כְּמִדְיָ֑ן כְּֽסִיסְרָ֥א כְ֝יָבִ֗ין בְּנַ֣חַל קִישֽׁוֹן׃

11 Who were destroyed at En‑dor; they became as dung for the earth.

יא נִשְׁמְד֥וּ בְֽעֵין־דֹּ֑אר הָ֥יוּ דֹּ֗֝מֶן לָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

12 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, and like Zebah and Zalmunna all their princes;

יב שִׁיתֵ֣מוֹ נְ֭דִיבֵימוֹ כְּעֹרֵ֣ב וְכִזְאֵ֑ב וּֽכְזֶ֥בַח וּ֝כְצַלְמֻנָּ֗ע כָּל־נְסִיכֵֽימוֹ׃

13 Who said: ‘Let us take to ourselves in possession the habitations of G‑d.’

יג אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָֽ֭מְרוּ נִ֣ירְשָׁה לָּ֑נוּ אֵ֗֝ת נְא֣וֹת אֱ‑לֹהִֽים׃

14 O my G‑d, make them like the whirling dust; as stubble before the wind.

יד אֱֽ‑לֹהַ֗י שִׁיתֵ֥מוֹ כַגַּלְגַּ֑ל כְּ֝קַ֗שׁ לִפְנֵי־רֽוּחַ׃

15 As the fire that burneth the forest, and as the flame that setteth the mountains ablaze;

טו כְּאֵ֥שׁ תִּבְעַר־יָ֑עַר וּ֝כְלֶֽהָבָ֗ה תְּלַהֵ֥ט הָרִֽים׃

16 So pursue them with Your tempest, and affright them with Your storm.

טז כֵּ֭ן תִּרְדְּפֵ֣ם בְּסַֽעֲרֶ֑ךָ וּבְסוּפָֽתְךָ֥ תְבַֽהֲלֵֽם׃

17 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek Your name, Hashem.

יז מַלֵּ֣א פְנֵיהֶ֣ם קָל֑וֹן וִֽיבַקְשׁ֖וּ שִׁמְךָ֣ יְ‑הוָֽה׃

18 Let them be ashamed and affrighted for ever; let them be abashed and perish.

יח יֵבֹ֖שׁוּ וְיִבָּֽהֲל֥וּ עֲדֵי־עַ֗ד וְֽיַחְפְּר֥וּ וְיֹאבֵֽדוּ׃

19 So that they may know that it is You alone whose name is Hashem, {New line}

the Most High over the whole world.

יט וְֽיֵדְע֗וּ כִּֽי־אַתָּ֬ה שִׁמְךָ֣ יְ‑הוָ֣ה לְבַדֶּ֑ךָ

עֶ֝לְי֗וֹן עַל־כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

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